Coronavirus or COVID-19 and crucial information for all to know
By: James Blake / Trans Empowerment Project
In the news recently, you may have heard lots of conflicting information about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Many cities across America have shut down schools, canceled local events and gatherings, and select hospitals and nursing homes have been encouraged to reduce visitation to necessity visits only (after being screened for flu-like symptoms).
While toilet paper, canned goods, baby wipes, and bottled water continue to disappear from the shelves of every local retailer, and many online retailers as well, what are some things you should know about this global pandemic and the mandatory “social distancing” that has stemmed from it?
For starters, let’s talk about the health effects and how to prevent the spread of the virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 5-8 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the eyes, noses, or mouths of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic, or the sickest.
- Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
- It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
Some viruses are highly contagious or spread easily from person-to-person. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably within a community, or “community spread”, in some affected geographic areas.
How do we prevent the spread of the virus?
- Avoid contact with others. Keep a distance of 5-8 feet away from other people, when in public spaces.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or visiting a public place.
- Avoid touching surfaces (such as countertops), door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, and crosswalk buttons.
- Avoid crowds, public transportation (if possible), and any event or gathering larger than ten people.
Secondly, let’s talk about the fact that LGBTQ individuals are at a higher risk of being infected by the virus. You may be asking why. There are three main reasons for this:
- LGBTQ people use tobacco products at a rate 50% higher than non-LGBTQ people. This is relevant because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that is more harmful to chronic smokers.
- LGBTQ people face a higher occurrence of HIV & AIDS, which can weaken a person’s immune system, making them at greater risk of contracting the virus.
- LGBTQ folks experience a greater incidence of discrimination in healthcare settings, making access to necessary health care an obstacle.
- Additional reasons the LGBTQ community experiences a higher COVID-19 infection rate are:
- LGBTQ people are often displaced from their family home (often a single-family home) and forced to live in more populated housing options such as shelters, group housing programs, long-term facilities, and roommate situations.
- LGBTQ individuals experience homelessness in greater numbers than the non-LGBTQ demographic, making it nearly impossible for those who rely on public and community services to self-quarantine or perform “social distancing” in order to reduce the risk of exposure.
- LGBTQ people are often unemployed or underemployed and may not be able to afford to stay home or take a reduction in hours, leading to a higher risk of exposure. Lack of funding may also leave them unable to afford medications, medical care, and preventative measures such as gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer.
**LGBTQ elders are significantly more at risk due to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on older people. The current mortality rate is at 15% for this population, and 65% or greater for those over 60, which makes this a huge issue for the entire LGBTQ community.
**Those with heart or coronary problems, diabetes, or a compromised immune system should especially take precautions to reduce exposure to the virus.
Third, let’s discuss what to do if you believe you may have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.
What if I think I’ve been exposed to someone with the virus?
- Stay home unless it’s absolutely necessary, such as getting medical care
- Separate yourself from loved ones, including pets!
- Wear a face mask in public spaces
- Call your primary care provider and let them know you may have been exposed to COVID-19, find out what the best steps are to seek medical care, as they may have a specific testing location or a plan in place for testing
- Let your local health department know about your potential exposure
What should I AVOID doing if I believe I’ve been exposed to the virus?
- Avoid going to the emergency room, urgent care, or walk-in clinic, as you will likely be turned away, and potentially expose other people.
- Avoid using public transportation and occupying public spaces.
- Avoid sharing personal items with family, friends, and roommates.
- Please CALL your medical provider ahead of time if you believe you’ve been exposed to the virus.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- Shortness of Breath
- Fatigue (Tiredness)
- Sore Throat
- Body Aches or Joint Pain
- Stuffy Nose
You may be asking yourself, is there anything else I can do to be prepared. Last, we’ll go over a few additional steps you can take to be prepared for the Emergency Home Quarantine.
What else can I do to be prepared?
- Create an action plan. Talk with your household and those in your daily lives about what to do in case of an outbreak in your community.
- Identify a specific room(s) for self-quarantine within your household in case someone begins to display symptoms.
- Ask your employer to allow you to work from home temporarily.
- Transfer all meetings to video or teleconferencing only.
- Regularly clean all surfaces and frequently touched items such as the phone, computer, faucets, etc.
- Prepare your home with 14-30 days worth of medical supplies, food, water, and other essential items. For those on hormones, please remember to have a sufficient supply of hormones, syringes, alcohol swabs, etc. for any injectable medications, or enough of your oral medication to last 14-30 days.
We hope you find this emergency information useful! Please stay safe out there and stay home as much as possible over the next 2-4 weeks.
Enjoy your mandatory vacation and make sure to get in some self-care. If you are in need of tips and ideas for self-care check out our newest “Self Care & Boundaries For Everyone” informational slide packet!
***James Blake is the Director of the TRANSition program and a former registered nurse, using official CDC information.